giovedì 3 marzo 2016

How to build a fantasy world - Names

Names are important.
They define your homebrew world and give a huge boost to themes of it.
Their choice will have influence, positive or negative, on your efforts
Let's see simple methods to choose them.
People's Names
You've got some choices.
1) Expecially for minor NPCs you can surely use real names. It's perfectly believable to call John a paesant, Pete an hunter or Carol a waitress. You can choose other languages according to the area's theme. This system is usually quick and simple.
2) Start from real names and twist them. Take James and transform it into Jesam or begin with Audrey and end with Druya. Easy and fast.
3) Use nicknames. Players use to forget a NPC's name and a nickname will help them. Murriz the Great Sage, Hozàr the Slayer are simple methods to make vivid your NPCs. One important NPC in one of my last campaigns was one William (oh, a real name...) Osoer, the Young Lion (by his house's sign and his young age): anyone remembered him
4) Use names from the past. Gene Wolfe, for his books of the New Sun cycle, used plenty of names from the first centuries of Christian Era or from Early Middle Ages (from III to X century AD). Search them through cyclopedias or Wikipedia, on medieval dictionaries (Thesaurus, Du Cange) or collections of documents (RIS, MGH, Patrologia Graeca or Patrologia Latina).
City Names
1) Take an atlas or use Google Maps and go to nations which have the sounds of name you like more. Choose what you prefer, finding among the numberless little town or villages of that nations.
2) Many names of cities derive from ancient words describing some their features or of their surroundings. Name such as "High Walls" or "White Bay" or "Pinesdale" are believable and easy to pick. 
3) Again surf through books or Wikipedia and use ancient latin names (or by other languges such as saxon) of european cities. You can modify some letters to hide their origin.
Geographical names
Take the same tips for cities. I like a lot point 2. For example in the Unique World you can find the Blue Mountains, which derive their name from the particular colour they have on sunny winter mornings.
Names of things
You needn't to create a dictionary about languages of your world. again, you are not Tolkien, or Martin or a scholar.
Go simpler: choose two or tre objects, a mineral, a plant, an animal which represent something special about your world and find a word for them
Everyone remember Dragonlance's Vallenwood, Middle-Earth's Athelas or Westeros' Heart Trees, once they've been there.
Do it too and your players will eever remember where they are.
The more they'll do, more they'll feel at home. 
It's one of your goals.
Bye.
the DM.